100 Town Halls in 100 Days: What We Learned — Sen. Jeff Jackson
I’m sitting in the passenger seat of my Ford Fusion and we’re headed to our 100th town hall and I just wanted to share a few thoughts with you.
I’m really glad we did this, and that we did it early in the campaign. We’ve learned a lot and we’ve developed a pretty clear sense of what people want from their next U.S. Senator.
One of the big lessons has been the amount of diversity beneath the label “rural.” Macon County is rural. So are Bertie and Yadkin and Duplin. But these counties have virtually nothing in common with each other beyond being called rural. There’s just an enormous variety of economic prospects, demographics, geography, and local challenges across our state.
There’s also much, much more consensus and good will in politics than we see in the news. By the time we finish this 100th town hall in Cumberland County, we will have taken *any question* from *any person* in every county of our state. You would think it would have been open season on me at every event. You’d think that I’d be shouted at or heckled or aggressively confronted on a regular basis.
It almost never happened. People always felt comfortable voicing disagreement, but almost never did someone really lose it.
I think that’s a testament to the value of meeting with people in person. It’s hard to hate someone who shows up, takes your question, and answers in a way that treats you as a serious person who deserves respect.
And look — I’ve seen the videos from these school board meetings where things are clearly breaking down. I’m not saying that polarization and misinformation aren’t motivating some pretty wild behavior. But we just saw much less of it than we expected, and I think that’s worth reporting back to you.
Finally, if you’re running for Senate and you don’t want your agenda to be a set of talking points handed over by consultants, this is the way to campaign. As we’ve been traveling the state, we’ve been working on a North Carolina Agenda — something informed by what we’ve learned from people we’ve actually spoken to: Teachers. Farmers. Students. Retirees. Single moms. State employees. Veterans. Small business owners. Hourly workers. Climate scientists. Social workers. Fifth-generation North Carolinians. New arrivals.
A recent example: The town hall we just finished in Sampson County had a nurse, a blueberry farmer, an elementary school teacher, the parents whose child is in that teacher’s class, a principal, and two county commissioners who both wanted to talk about — you guessed it — water and sewer.
And those folks literally helped build our agenda. The answers I’ll give to questions at our 100th town hall will be different than the answers I gave at our first, because we’ve just learned a lot since then. Those conversations have actually shaped the agenda of a U.S. Senate campaign, and that’s the way this should work.
I want you to expect this from candidates. This shouldn’t be as rare as it is. We’re not just trying to win — we’re trying to win in a way that raises your expectations for your Senators going forward.
We’re going to do our 100th town hall in Cumberland County, then I’m going to drive home and cook dinner for my family, then we’re going to spend a few days together.
Then we’ve got some things planned that we’re excited about. More soon.
Here’s to 100 counties in 100 days!